COOL LIKE MY DAD
by Janna Leyde
“Tender Love and Care?”
“No,” he said. “Guess again.”
My dad held his watch up to my face, as if having it closer would help me figure what TLC meant. It didn’t. It just made think harder about how having a sliver of notebook paper with TLC written on it and taped to the face of a watch looks dumpy. And my dad’s not dumpy. He’s a pretty cool guy—cool, despite the brain injury. Cool with his copper bracelet that I bought him in Mexico and his bloodstone ring and his green BIAA band, Brain Injury Association of America—our version of Live Strong.
But this watch thing was so not cool.
“Hint?” I asked.
“Uh… I don’t know. The Learning Chanel?”
Back and forth, until I had to give up, because I didn’t have a clue what TLC meant.
“Think Like Claudia,” he said, holding up his watch again. “Dr. Pecorelli says it’s supposed to remind me to take time and think like your mother.”
This is one of the reasons I love my dad’s psychologist: he is very good with putting things in my dad’s context. My mother stops and thinks things through, thinks about others, thinks of the greater good, thinks of these things before making a choice. My father does not, and most of his poor choices—smoke pot, lie, steal, say something rude, drive the mower too close to the pond—directly affect my mother.
That was a year ago, and today that paper is still there, taped to face of his watch, still hiding the 5, 6, and 7 o’clocks. He’s re-taped the paper a few times to keep it safely in place, because he and I both know that TLC has to stay, because Thinking Like Claudia helps him make better choices.
I, too, have a TLC. Sat (truth), the root word for Satya (truthfulness), is tattooed on my right wrist. At 30, I thought getting a tattoo—one of something cool, one with a meaning that resonated—was cool as shit. Turns out seeing this symbol on my wrist makes me stop and think: How can truth help me make a better decision?
But having a brain injury makes it harder to access your inner truth. So for my dad, seeing his choices through the sieve of my mother’s thoughts, is what guides him.
For the rest of us, we have truth.
And my truth—it’s always pretty cool to be like my dad, even if it’s because we both need reminders on our wrist about why we need to stop think.
Janna Leyde is a yogi and writer living in Brooklyn. When she’s not on her mat or at the front of the room teaching, she is working on publishing her first novel, He Never Liked Cake, a coming of age memoir that tells the story of growing up with her father’s traumatic brain injury. Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain offers her perspective on the practice through the lens of the complex human brain.